Friday, August 31, 2007

Scripture: Historia Salutis, Introduction (Why a Synod on the Word of God?)

Part 1 of the Historia Salutis series.

  1. What "signs of the times" in your country give this Synod on the Word of God a particularly timely character? What do people expect from it?
  2. What is the relation of the preceding Synod on the Eucharist to the present one on the Word of God?
  3. Do experiences and practices with the Bible exist in your particular Church? What are they? Do Bible groups exist? Describe them and their activities.
I summarize each paragraph of the document. The introduction covers paragraphs 1-5. Quotes are from Historia Salutis unless otherwise noted; if a quote is from a different paragraph than the one currently being treated it will be specified.
  1. The phrase Word of God (or word of God) is a rather loaded one. We call Scripture the word of God, and we call Jesus the Word of God, the Word made flesh, the Incarnate Word. Scripture contains the revelation from God (His word), and Jesus is the fulfillment and totality of that revelation. As John describes in his account of the Gospel, the Word of God was with God in the beginning (cf. John 1:1-3), and creation came through the Word: God spoke, and light (and all else) came into being (cf. Gen 1:3). The Word is present throughout all history -- its beginning, the key moment of the Incarnation, and its culmination (cf. Rev 22:20).
  2. "Christians are eagerly seeking the Word of God as the source of life and as a means of encountering the Lord in a personal manner." Through the reading Scripture, God, "out of the abundance of His love [...] speaks to humankind as friends and lives among them, so that He may invite and take them into fellowship with Himself" (HS 2; DV 2). The communication between us and God "takes place through the action of the Holy Spirit".
  3. "The Person of Christ the Lord is at the core of the Word of God." "Dei Verbum [...] completed the long study and development of three Encyclical Letters: Providentissimus Deus of Leo XIII, Spiritu Paraclitus of Benedict XV, and Divino Afflante Spiritus of Pius XII." This Synod is looking at, among other things, "how the Word has been encountered in the Bible", such as in Joshua 24, Nehemiah 8, and Acts 2.
  4. In particular the Synod is looking at "the intrinsic connection between the Eucharist and Word of God", since Jesus, the Word of God, is present at Mass both in Scripture and in the Eucharist. Knowledge of Scripture -- and certainty "regarding the teachings of Revelation" -- are very important to every Christian. "Without the truth of God's Word, relativism becomes alluring in people's lives and thinking." To this end, the Synod feels "a total and complete knowledge of the Church's teachings concerning the Word of God" be made known to the faithful.
  5. Among the objectives of this Synod (which is primarily pastoral) are:
    1. "to help clarify the basic truths of Revelation as the Word of God, Divine Tradition, the Bible and the Magisterium, which prompt and guarantee an authentic and effective living of the faith"
    2. "to spark an appreciation and deep love Sacred Scripture"
    3. "to renew listening to the Word of God [...] specifically through lectio divina"
    4. "to offer a Word of consolation and hope to the poor of the world"
    It also hopes to "encourage ecumenical dialogue, which is closely linked to listening to the Word of God". The Synod will focus on three areas:
    • "Revelation, the Word of God, the Church"
    • "The Word of God in the Life of the Church"
    • "The Word of God in the Mission of the Church"
I encourage you to read the actual document yourselves, and post your answers to the questions asked in the Introduction (shown above).

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